“Peace and love, everybody,” he said quietly, sitting behind an electric keyboard, with a grand piano to his right. After sending a shout out to “my brother, Kamal, Q Tip,” D’Angelo introduced a “good friend of mine,” his trumpeter Keyon Harrold, and the pair twosome launched into a soft, jazzy number that is apparently new, including the lyrics “love is the thing that makes the world go around.” Regardless, D’Angelo invited the audience to sing along.
In between songs, he got wistful, recalling his first performance at a legendary Apollo Amateur night. “Whenever I come here I think of the first time, when I was just 16 or 17 years old,” he said.
“So what happened?,” quizzed straight-man Scratch.
From there, D’Angelo moved through the clumpy electro-funk of “1000 Deaths” with a fuzz effect on his vocals, before slowing things down (“Let’s get into a vibe”) for several breezily crooned recent tracks like “Back to the Future, Pt. 1” and “Sugah Daddy.”
Sources tell Variety that Verzuz will be announcing a new partner — after several successful months with Apple Music — in the coming days. What’s next for D’Angelo is anyone’s guess, but the next Verzuz will continue the Wu-Tang Clan theme by pitting the group’s Raekwon and Ghostface against each other — and then the series will celebrate its first anniversary the way it began, with founders Swizz Beatz and Timbaland facing off again.
Saturday night’s Verzuz broke format by featuring essentially a one-sided battle: D’Angelo, accompanied by DJ Scratch, singing along with his songs and accompanying himself on keyboards, with guest spots from H.E.R., Method Man and Redman. A collaborator like Questlove, Badu, Lauryn Hill or Raphael Saadiq? Would D’Angelo lock sonic horns with fellow mid-‘90s R&B legend like Maxwell? But days went by with no confirmed opponent announced — although Verzuz founders Swizz Beatz and Timbaland said in a chat that Maxwell was the original plan — and ultimately, there wasn’t one. Considering the setting — the legendary Apollo, where singers from Billie Holiday and James Brown to Michael Jackson and a teenaged D’Angelo himself proved themselves — suggested something legendary. The DJ competition series pits one artist or hitmaker against another in a (usually) friendly song-by-song battle, and has ranged from friends like singers Erykah Badu and Jill Scott praising each other to longtime rivals with genuine differences, such as Gucci Mane and Jeezy, airing things out. When Verzuz announced on Valentine’s Day that the reclusive R&B superstar D’Angelo, who has been under the radar since his brief tour in support of 2014’s “Black Messiah” album, would come out of his lair to perform with unnamed “Friends” at Harlem’s historic Apollo Theater on February 27, the Internet immediately lit up with speculation about who he might lock horns with.
The set glided to a close with “The Root” and "Brown Sugar" and the pair seemed about to leave the stage until Scratch cued the rimshot-rhythm of the biggest request in the IG comments section peanut gallery: D’Angelo’s smoldering 2000 hit “Untitled (How Does It Feel?).” The pair delivered, and ended the party at precisely 11:30 p.m.
But things quickly picked up when veteran rappers Method Man of Wu-Tang Clan (clad in a maroon Def Jam jacket) and Redman (the only performer to wear a mask) joined D’Angelo for a rough-rapped R&B track “Left & Right,” which segued into Method’s own “Break Ups 2 Make Ups.” The three grooved together for the performance while D’Angelo smiled ear-to-ear, hugging his collaborators as they left the stage. “Give them their roses now — they’re legends, kings,” he said.
She launched into one of her own songs, “Best Part,” before sliding into his old-school duet with Lauryn Hill, “Nothing Even Matters,” while D’Angelo sang a verse and accompanied her on electric piano. then walked onstage in a powder-blue outfit, brandishing an acoustic guitar. H.E.R. “I’m your biggest fan!,” she said to D’Angelo.
After getting out from behind his keyboard, Scratch dued up the the spare, finger-snapping backing track to D’s cover of Smokey Robinson’s classic “Cruisin’,” and he rolled into a string of other songs from early in his career, including a slow “Lady” and “Me and Those Dreamin’ Eyes of Mine."
D’Angelo’s brilliance as a songwriter and performer ever since he emerged with 1995’s babymaking classic “Brown Sugar,” and he upped the stakes with the future funk of 2000’s “Voodoo.” But he then vanished from view almost completely, re-emerging for “Black Messiah” — which effectively found him picking up where he left off — before going back into his shell, apart from a 2019 documentary entitled “Devil’s Pie.”
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When H.E.R. departed, D’Angelo continued the “Nothing Even Matters” reverie with his own take on the track.
Just before 10 p.m., D’Angelo walked onto the candle-strewn set on the stage of the Apollo with a cigarette in his hand, a wide-brimmed tan hat atop a scarf on his head and wearing, what appeared to be, a long billowy black mink coat (which caused one IG commenter to joke that he had borrowed his outfit from Badu’s closet) before welcoming the viewers.
Power to the people.” “That was my start as a professional. Shout out to Harlem, to New York.” Both he and Scratch talked about “supporting Black business and entrepreneurship,” before D’ said “That’s where the power’s at. I think about this place, and about Harlem, and I think about community. “I won,” said D with a laugh.
But then Scratch said, “Let’s change the pace, something for the ladies,” and the pair went into the churchy blues of “One Mo’ Gin,” an immensely funky “Chicken Grease” (complete with an assistant removing and replacing D’s coat, James Brown style) and a lo-fi, piano-led version of Roberta Flack’s “Feel Like Makin’ Love.” The two rolled through a few more songs — including “Send It On,” dedicated to the late ‘Robert “Kool” Bell of Kool in the Gang — before the pair teased a surprise guest. Returning to song, and a shout out to collaborator DJ Premier, D’Angelo launched into a slowly cascading “Devil’s Pie,” bringing his voice down to its lowest register.
https://www.instagram.com/p/CL01oHIDifN/
DeBarge, Jodeci, Mary J Blige) to an Instagram-commenting fan base that included Common, Lena Waithe, Common, Viola Davis, Lenny Kravitz and Quincy Jones. DJ Scratch kicked off the IG Live party at 9 pm ET with a tone-setting selection of era-appropriate hits (e.g.

Mob
You gotta respect that
Redman, Method Man, you gotta respect them
C’mon. Her neck off her body (gang, gang)
Searching for Radio Stations
Two bitches they into me
I thinking they feeling me (I think’-)
Searching for Radio Stations
A whoo, yea (a what)
Adidas on me like I’m DMC (a what)
A yea, what
Your bitch wanna hang on me
Searching for Radio Stations
I get the drip from my walk, my baby she come from up north
My money, it come from the vault
I’m smoking on dope like Young Dolph
Searching for Radio Stations
I’m smoking on dope, real fu dope, I got it from Dion
Free Guwop, I had to say the shit two times
Searching for Radio Stations
I’m runnin’ ’round in a Uber
I took your bitch, you a loser
Searching for Radio Stations
I wish a nigga would tryna trap me (I wish a nigga would)
Searching for Radio Stations
A wha’
Pull up in a foreign so quick (skrt, skra)
Fly first, lookin’ so ohh (so ohh)
Cameras down why don’t you [?] (they wha’)
Bad, bad, baby girl, [?]
I got my 30, you know I never lackin’
Run up on me and it’s crackin’
I get the money I bag it
You say you got money, lil homie what happened
Dexter
Hell yea, you-you-you got to
You got to give-
There won’t be no Dexter if there was no Nas
You gotta, you-
If you don’t respect the OGs then fuck you
You gotta respect Snoop, Ice Cube
Just c’mon
You [?] get your facts right
You gotta respect WuTang, you gotta, you can’t
You gotta respect them. No, we speak facts bro Searching for Radio Stations
Ridin’, cruisin’, with the windows down
Just copped a-
Searching for Radio Stations
Esketit
I’ma monster you can see it (whoo)
All these bitches wanna fuck-
Searching for Radio Stations
Wait, your [censored] a thottie (wha)
She just wants to kick it, I don’t know karate (whata)
But the [censored] so good, the [censored] so great
Guess what?

[Intro]
Listen, you might learn some
Jahlil Beats, holla at me
Jadakiss where you been, where you at
This rap is wack
I want that old thing back
I want that old thing back

[Verse 1: Jadakiss]
Some niggas tell a lot, some niggas sell a lot
Some niggas used to be mad nice, then fell a lot
Albums still trash I don’t care who the hell you got
Portraying the role of a G, we can tell you not
Sorry to bother you, I’m only doing what a father do
Your production is horrible, you’ll forever be a nerd
And your metaphors are better off, never being heard
I came in grimy, Puff made me shiny
Put ’em both together, a protege of the 90’s
Grew up, put that bullshit behind me
Started making niggas demises untimely
Looking for me, come to the hood you could find me
Gucci belt right on the waist where the 9 be
.38 right in the garbage, where the packs at
M1 right in the trunk, where the jacks at
Whoever is in arm’s length will get backslapped
Cause I ain’t playing with these rap cats
This is the flow you can’t learn
The dutch you can’t burn
Nigga, I’ve got stripes you can’t earn

[Hook: Jadakiss]
Method Man, where you been where you at
These rap niggas is wack, I want that old thang back
Yeah, I want that old thang back
Yeah, I want that old thang back

[Verse 2: Method Man]
You got the M.E, the M.E., the M.E., the M., M., M.,
The M.E.T.H.O.D. Man
You need a dopefiend track
Let me shoot up and lean back
With this needle stuck in my arm, never tuck in my charm
Most my team sling crack
If I hit every corner with G packs
Might cause the man DC to relapse
I’m a Hip hop juggie, who needs rap?
MC’s wack, Killerbees is back in the booth
Mind your beeswax
And fuck a salary cap
We blow a cap at any Energizer bunny right where his battery at
Look, the bastard child of Clarence Thomas and Reagonomics
On every 1st and 15th make sure you pay me homage
Might break a promise but never breaking the code
Got the floor safe, coke in the pot, fiend at the stove
Meth, rock a W on my clothes
I’m a straight rider, straight to the W with these hoes
I’m straight fire, these motherfuckers is froze
Like a skinny supermodel that like to powder her nose

[Hook: Method Man]
Redman, where you been where you at
These rap niggas is wack, I want that old thang back
I want that old thang back
I want that old thang back

[Verse 3: Redman]
Yo boy, I’m like Rick James, I got that old thang
I got a gold chain, [?] with gold frames
Doc doing the runnerman on Soul Train
With a chinese girl, the chicken get Lo Mein
Propane for the raw, I put on the streets
My thoughts, the blue magic put on the beats
Game time, Doc rocket like Dominique
Play vegetarian nigga and ignore the beef
Yeah, Kyrie keep the blow smoking
Slide in the club, cool like the floor frozen
Check out the wild thang got a Tone Lōco
Big ass and high heels with the toes open
That’s me, 90’s MC
Fuck a Grammy awards, underground is tax free
Look in the mirror I feel fantastic
The mirror said ‘you are, you conceited bastard’

[Hook: Busta Rhymes]
Santana, where you been where you
These rap niggas is wack, I want that old thang back
I want that old thang back
Tell ’em I want that old thang back

[Verse 4: Juelz Santana]
I came to bring the pain
Put niggas to shame, simple and plain
They gon’ remember my name
And it’s all for respect not fame
So don’t play with me
You could give ’em rope, they still can’t hang with me
Pass the baton, they still can’t race with me
So far ahead of these niggas they still chasing me
I wouldn’t be surprised if niggas ghostwriters got ghostwriters
Nothing cease to amaze you
Labels used to care, even though they was raping me
Now it’s 360 deals, modern day slavery
Fuck you, who payin’ me, I’m the one recording
We’ll settle for extortion or fame over fortune
The game done changed, the sound done changed
All these niggas sound the same
The word loyalty don’t even sound the same
Good thing I keep the pound, when it bang it always sound the same
I aim at the game, the real shall remain
Neck full of water like I drowned my chain
Flier than a nigga jumping out the plane
Higher than you niggas, you can find the strain
Better than you niggas that’s without me saying
Treat the money like the work, we don’t count, we weigh it
For this amount we aim it, blaze it, flame it
Barrel big as a shower head, you don’t want me spraying
Enough with the mumble jumble
Santana back though, can I get a drum roll?
Whole lotta kush and it’s stuffed in a fronto
Fiends still say my work taste like gumbo
Yeah, bring that old thang back
I was told to whip it up and bring the whole thang back
When I was pumping coke, you was jumping rope
I was runnin’ out of bags, you was playing tag
While you was hop scotching, I was drop shopping
At the dealer paying cash for them paper tags
While you was pop locking, I was Glock popping
Getting to the cash, brown paper bags
Blowing money fast and it never last
Yeah, they make it fast, barely make it back
Haters gonna suffer, I’m okay with that
All this garbage, time to throw away the trash

[Intro]
Listen, you might learn some
Jahlil Beats, holla at me
Jadakiss where you been, where you at
This rap is wack
I want that old thing back
I want that old thing back

[Verse 1: Jadakiss]
Some niggas tell a lot, some niggas sell a lot
Some niggas used to be mad nice, then fell a lot
Albums still trash I don’t care who the hell you got
Portraying the role of a G, we can tell you not
Sorry to bother you, I’m only doing what a father do
Your production is horrible, you’ll forever be a nerd
And your metaphors are better off, never being heard
I came in grinding, Puff made me shining
Put ’em both together, a protege of the 90’s
Grew up, put that bullshit behind me
Started making niggas demises untimely
Looking for me, come to the hood you can find me
Gucci belt right on the waist where the 9 be
.38 right in the garbage, where the packs at
M1 right in the trunk, where the jacks at
Whoever is in arm length will get backslapped
Cause I ain’t playing with these rap cats
This is the flow you can’t learn
The dutch you can’t burn
Nigga, I’ve got stripes you can’t earn

[Hook: Jadakiss]
Method Man, where you been where you at
These rap niggas is wack, I want that old thang back
Yeah, I want that old thang back
Yeah, I want that old thang back

[Verse 2: Method Man]
You got the M.E, the M.E., the M.E., the M., M., M.,
The M.E.T.H.O.D. Man
[?] need a dopefiend track
Let me shoot up and lean back
With this needle stuck in my arm, never tuck in my charm
Most my team sling crack
If I hit every corner with G packs
Might cause the man DC to relapse
I’m a Hip hop junkies, who needs rap?
MC’s wack, Killerbees is back in the booth
Mind your beeswax
And fuck a style that you got
We blow a cap at any Energizer bunny right where his battery at
Look, the bastard child of Clarence Thomas and Reagonomics
On every 1st and 15th make sure you pay me homage
Might break a promise but never breaking the code
Got the floor safe, coke in the pot, fiend at the stove
Meth, rock a W on my clothes
I’m a straight rider, straight to the W with these hoes
I’m straight fire, these motherfuckers is froze
Like a skinny supermodel that like to powder her nose

[Hook: Method Man]
Redman, where you been where you at
These rap niggas is wack, I want that old thang back
I want that old thang back
I want that old thang back

[Verse 3: Redman]
Dope boy, I’m like Rick James, I got that old thang
I got a gold chain, [?] with gold frames
Doc doing the runnerman on Soul Train
With a chinese girl, the chicken get Lo Mein
Propane for the raw, I put her on the streets
My thoughts, the blue magic put on the beats
Game time, Doc rocket like Dominique
Straight vegetarian nigga and ignore the beef
Yeah, Kyrie keep the blow smoking
Slide in the club, cool like the floor frozen
Check out the wild thang got a [?] loco
Big ass and high heels with the toes open
That’s me, 90’s MC
Fuck a Grammy awards, underground is tax free
Look in the mirror I feel fantastic
The mirror said ‘you are, you conceited bastard’

[Hook: Busta Rhymes]
Santana, where you been where you
These rap niggas is wack, I want that old thang back
I want that old thang back
Tell ’em I want that old thang back

[Verse 4]
I came to bring the pain
Put niggas to shame, simple and plain
They gon’ remember my name
And it’s all for respect not fame
So don’t play with me
You could give ’em rope, they still can’t hang with me
Pass the baton, they still can’t race with me
So far ahead of these niggas they still chasing me
I wouldn’t be surprised if niggas ghostwriters got ghostwriters
Nothing cease to amaze you
Labels used to care, even though they was raping me
Now it’s 360 deals, modern day slavery
Fuck you pay me, I’m the one who calling
[?] or fame over fortune
The game done changed, the sound done changed
All these niggas sound the same
The word loyalty don’t even sound the same
Good thing I keep the pound, when it bang it always sound the same
I aim at the game, the real shall remain
Neck full of water like I drowned my chain
Flier than a nigga jumping out the plane
Higher than you niggas, you can finally [?]
Better than you niggas that’s without me saying
Treat the money like the work, we don’t count we weight it
[?], aim it, blaze it, flame it
[?] shower head, you don’t want me spraying
Enough with the mumble jumble
Santana back though, can I get a drum roll?
Whole lotta kush and it’s stuffed in a fronto
Fiends still say my work taste like gumbo
Yeah, bring that old thang back
I was told to whip it up and bring the whole thang back
When I was [?], you was jumping rope
I was runnin’ out of bags, you was playing tag
While you was hop scotching, I was drop shopping
At the dealer paying cash for them paper tags
While you was pop locking, I was Glock popping
Getting to the cash, brown paper bags
Blowing money fast and it never last
Yeah, they make it fast, barely make it back
Haters gonna suffer, I’m okay with that
All this garbage, time to throw away the trash